Skateboard Maintenance 101: How to Protect Your Board

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Skateboard maintenance is essential if you want to ensure your board has a long life. That means doing more than checking your board for cracks after a long day of skating. When you clean your bearings, replace damaged grip tape, and watch out for wear on your skateboard, it can go a long way.

Even if you are new to maintenance for skateboards, the process isn’t overly complicated. This article will delve into how to handle all aspects of care so you can get started as soon as you are ready.

Use a Skate Tool

Before we talk about maintaining your board, we should first talk about the tools you need. Of course, the best option is a skate tool, which is made to work with all the board parts. 

However, there are other options you can use instead. For example, an Allen wrench or a screwdriver can be helpful depending on the parts you use. You’ll also want access to an open-ended spanner for your wheel nuts, kingpin nut, and baseplate.

Many Skateboard Components Are Universal

Before we talk about how to work with every part, be aware that all of them can be swapped out. In addition, bearings are universal and made to fit all wheels, while all wheels up to a 58mm size can also be easily switched to new ones. If the wheels are 60mm or larger, riser pads may be needed.

When it comes to trucks and decks, the width of the trucks should match the deck. It doesn’t have to be exact but make sure it’s not off by more than a little bit.

With the truck, be sure you use cone barrel-shaped bushings or cone-shaped bushings, depending on preference. All the nuts and bolts should be about 1/8 inches unless you use riser pads, 1/18 for shock pads, and ¼ if the riser pads are large.

Caring for Skateboard Bearings

Each bearing needs to be maintained on a frequent basis. Many recommend cleaning them at least once every season. There are also a few signs that you should replace or maintain the bearings in a skateboard.

  • Riding causes squeaking noises
  • The skateboard is slow and requires extra pushing effort
  • A wheel isn’t spinning correctly
  • It sounds as if sand is inside when you spin the bearings
  • The wheels stop spinning within four seconds of when you turn them

Bearing Removal

To take out the bearings, unscrew the axle nut from the truck and use a tool to remove the bearing. Add pressure and wiggle to force them out.

Cleaning the Bearings

Next, you should clean the bearings. If there is a bearing shield this is more difficult, so soak them for additional time. Then use the steps below to remove dirt and keep each bearing in good shape.

  1. Add denatured alcohol to a cup and submerge the bearing.
  2. Let them soak for about 15 minutes, then shake the cup to get rid of sand and dirt.
  3. Repeat several times and then remove the bearings.
  4. Place the items in a paper towel and shake them to remove dirt.
  5. Let the bearings completely dry on a dry towel.
  6. Add silicone bearing lubricant to the bearings and spin them between your fingers several times.

Bones Speed Cream is recommended for bearings. However, if they don’t seem to be working well after cleaning, replacement may be necessary.

How To Replace Bearings in Wheels

Now you need to put the parts back in. This can be challenging so take your time. Lubricate the inside of the wheels to make things easier. Place them onto the truck and add pressure. They should pop right on. Add any spacers you use and you are ready to ride.

Maintaining the Skateboard Trucks

The trucks on a board don’t need a lot of care but can be damaged. Some parts can be switched out:

  • Washers
  • Pivot cups
  • Bushings
  • Kingpin nut
  • Kingpin

Disassembly Steps

You’ll need to take apart the truck to replace the damaged component. Use the steps below:

  1. Take off the wheels.
  2. Unscrew hardware on the deck.
  3. Take out the kingpin nut.
  4. The truck will come apart at this point but is easy to reassemble.
  5. Clean all of the parts and remove rust.
  6. Replace bolts, nuts, and washers.
  7. Clean the thread before adding the kingpin nut
  8. Check for cracks on bushings
  9. Look for axle thread damage.

If the axle thread is damaged, rethread it with your tool. If you do not, the thread may be further damaged when attaching the bolts.

Washers that are damaged should be replaced. The same applies to nuts and bushings in lousy shape. You can also tighten the trucks or switch to softer or stiffer bushings.

Handling Bushings on a Skateboard

Bushings can be overlooked but should be swapped if they make a squeaking noise or have crumbled or been crushed. Likewise, bushings with tears and cracks should also be replaced. Thankfully, this skateboard part is easy to work with.

How to Replace Bushings

If this part needs to be replaced, follow the steps below:

  1. Pry the nut off the kingpin using an appropriate tool.
  2. Look for squashing, tears, wear, and cracks.
  3. Insert new bushings and reassemble the trucks.

Suitable bushings will help your board’s trucks turn and offer better performance.

Maintaining Skateboard Wheels

You might wonder why you need to worry about the wheels on the board. Swapping their places can make a huge difference in how they wear. For instance, if the front wheels are faster than the back ones, it can cause performance issues. Below is the process to move them to different positions.

Swapping Wheel Spots

  1. Take the right rear wheel and place it on the left front of the truck.
  2. The left front wheel moves to the right rear truck.
  3. The same applies to the right front wheel, which goes to the left rear wheel area.
  4. Last, move the left rear truck to the front of the right truck.

You can also flip the wheels so the graphic is on the inside. This may not matter if you do it with old wheels regularly since the picture is probably already worn off.

If the wheels are overly dirty, take out the bearings and wipe down the core. This will prevent any dirt or dust from entering the bearings themselves.

Working with a Skateboard Deck

The deck can be one of the most challenging parts to work with. It’s expected to be damaged, have the graphics destroyed, and then be replaced when needed. However, while the board is expected to deal with abuse, that doesn’t mean you have no way to keep it in the best shape possible.

If you start to notice chips in the tail or nose, you can be sure that the best days of the deck are essentially over. Unfortunately, for cracks that manifest near the trucks, that means the deck is likely to snap soon. So while you can sand down the razor tail or glue back on chips, you’ll need to replace the deck at some point.

Deck Replacement

For those who are on a budget, consider an inexpensive blank deck from a reputable brand. Remember that this is an essential part that has to be present to use the skateboard at all.

As far as maintenance goes, make sure you clean both the grip tape and deck but avoid the use of water. It will be absorbed and can cause additional damage. You can learn more about how to keep the grip tape in good shape below.

Keeping Grip Tape in Good Condition

You may not need to do this on a regular basis, but you can remove the grip tape and add new grip tape if the debris on the deck starts to bother you. Some dust doesn’t matter, but if it is allowed to build up, it can cause issues with your grip and you may need to clean the grip tape. Using a brush can remove most debris, but the grip tape may not be entirely clean.

You can also choose to use grip gum. Some people find that grip gum does a great job, while others prefer to use other methods.

Important Tips

Regardless of the method, never use water on the grip tape. It will be absorbed and could cause the tape to start peeling off. If lots of dirt and dust is on the deck, leave it in the sun and brush off as much as you can.

In the worst-case scenario, replacing the grip tape is another option. You can use a hairdryer to add heat to the grip tape before pulling it up. You may be able to rip it up in one attempt. If not, introduce more heat and keep trying. A razor blade or a Stanley knife can also be used if you prefer.

Look Over All the Hardware

It can be tempting to ignore the hardware that holds important skateboard components, but you should avoid that. These bolts and other items can rust, break, and cause other parts to become damaged. Be sure all of the hardware is in excellent condition. If it isn’t, make the needed replacements.

This is a must, especially since the parts are inexpensive and can prevent you from losing more expensive components such as the trucks. Always be sure you get these in the appropriate size so they do their job well.

Wrapping Up

Going through a maintenance and cleaning process with your deck, wheels, trucks, and other skateboard parts is essential. Knowing how parts are holding up can help you prevent damage and ensure your board lasts a long time. If you follow the steps above, you’ll keep your board in great shape for riding, tricks, and more.

Not only will this ensure you have the best experience on your skateboard, but it can also save money. When your hardware is in excellent shape, there’s no need to replace it. So grab a few simple tools and get started. You might be surprised by what a difference it makes on an old or new skateboard.